Showing posts with label random. Show all posts
Showing posts with label random. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A lesson in boys... and the Bible

The other day I had a lesson in all things... boy.

I was subbing for a Sunday School class, you see.  Since the focus this month is on honor, the co-leader (a male high-schooler) and I sat down to run through the lesson before class.  According to the lesson, we considered a question from the notes for ourselves.  "Who is someone you would consider to be your hero?  Or who is someone you want to be like when you grow up?"

It took me all of .3 seconds to think of several.  Depending on my various ages and stages throughout childhood, people I aspired to be like ranged from Kim Zmeskal and Bridgette Bartley to my coaches, mentors, and Godly women around me.  My models have changed to reflect maturity and understanding over time, it's true.  But it wasn't a difficult task.
Pretty sure I had this poster of Zmeskal hanging in my room for years...
how can you do something like this and NOT be a little girl's hero?

For my co-leader, it was a different story.  He couldn't think of one.

"Who is someone you respect?" I prompted as any true teacher is trained to do.  "Maybe someone who is really great at sports... or skilled at something..."

It took awhile, but... I finally got an answer.


Really?  Yoda?

But of course, what was I thinking?  Despite the fact that this completely made-up character is from a different planet, has strange features, is green in color and speaks in a strangely mixed-up way... why wouldn't Yoda be the first choice for someone you want to be like when you grow up?

Then again, he's small... but mighty.  He gets to use a cool light saber and blow people up with his hand while flipping with ease 30 feet into the air.

Of course it would be Yoda.

My lesson in "all things boy" continued as a total of 8 boys meandered into the classroom.  No girls to be seen.  My conversation with my co-leader set the stage for all future discussions to be had.  We talked about the lesson, of course... just with a bit of a twist.  "We look on the inside and not on the outside because, well, it's the inside that really changes things."  "Yoda can do all this cool stuff not because he's just that awesome himself, but because he has the Force inside him.  And why is it that we can do great things?  What is our power source?  Why, the Holy Spirit, of course!"  "We can use this power to fight for what is good and in so doing, fight against the Dark side - the enemy."

I felt fortunate to have been inducted into all things Star Wars at an early age - compliments of having my dad and brother guide my formative years.  And don't get me wrong - I really do like a lot of the Star Wars (first) trilogy.  In Sunday School that week, we laughed a lot, learned a ton, had great discussions, and had lots of fun.  But at the same time, I had to sit back and laugh as I watched a room full of boys take on the topic of God with light sabers in hand.

Just one more reminder of how much I have yet to learn if I ever hope to understand the mind of boys!

Monday, February 20, 2012


 More on...
Some of you guys have checked out my new blog for kids, called Kids Change Things. If you haven't told all the amazing little people in your life about it, then now's your chance!!  I'm really excited about it and the opportunity to get kids (and adults!) connected to what is going on with Bible Translation in East Africa... praying for the work being done there and around the world... and helping them connect with kids around the world!

In connecting with Wycliffe about the kids' website, I recently got a link to a cool game that the Seed Company and the Duggars (you know, the 19 Kids and Counting Family) have put together. It's called Makaziville, and it lets kids play on an interactive website where they fly to TANZANIA of all places and get to build a village and learn more about Bible Translation! I've linked to it on my kids blog... but wanted to share a brief video I just found about it on here. Check it out!  (And yep, I'm really going to make you go to my kids website to get to the link... sorry!  I can't get the picture to link from here. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

...and a few things I do

(like, of course).

People.  Amazing people.  Who get what it means to be missional.  Focused on God.  People I can turn to when everything goes wrong.  And share with when things go well.  People who will be my family no matter what.  And people that I will be working with to help teach in Tanzania, that I got to meet at the good ol' trestle stop last week!
I could put about a million (or at least a hundred) pictures of people that I love and that fit this description on here... but I'll stick with one picture for now.  I'm so thankful for ALL the incredible people that God has put into my life!

I am SO excited to finally meet this amazing family (these kids do actually have parents and a baby sister who was feeling a little grumpy by the end of the meal), and am looking forward to serving with (and celebrating holidays) with them this time next year, Lord-willing!  They are heading to Musoma-land, Tanzania just a little bit after I am.  It's nice to know someone(s) before I go... :)

(If you want to "meet" some more of the amazing families I'll be working with soon, check out this page on my new website for kids.  and adults.  Thanks!)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sometimes, it turns out it's good I'm not currently teaching full time...

Like today, when I woke up without a voice. 

Also, my head is a bit foggy.  So I can't guarantee this will be a great post.  But it's been a bit since I've gotten on here, so I thought it was about time to at least say hi.


I'd love to fill you in on the past week's events.  But they pretty much include... writing papers.  Answering essay questions for finals.  Reading the head-coverings passage in Corinthians 50 times to see if I'm missing anything on my exegesis.  And then sleeping.  A lot. 

Oh, and yesterday I got to hang out with some pretty amazing little girls from down the street.  We made Christmas presents for their parents out of craft foam, markers, stamps, and lots and lots of glue... ate Puppy Chow (the chocolatey-version of chexmix - don't worry, I'm not actually giving kids dog food!), and pretty much had a blast.  Then the family brought me out to eat to celebrate my being done with classes.  Which was pretty much the best end to the semester that I could have had.

Wait, what?  Yep, you heard that right.  I'm DONE!!!  It really is an almost miraculous thing.  I didn't know if I'd make it through or not, so the fact that I'm still alive (minus a voice and the ability to breathe normally), is pretty amazing.  But it's ok.  I'm pretty sure this cold is just God's way of saying "Slow down and rest!" 

So now it's time to wrap presents.  Start thinking about Christmas.  (The above-mentioned little girls were VERY concerned that there were no presents under our tree.  I had to try to explain that mine were all upstairs hidden in my drawer, since I hadn't had a moment to wrap them yet...)  And drink. lots. of orange juice.

Can't wait to see my brother Jeremy, his wife Claudia, and all my amazing extended family soon!

(Because, in the midst of everything else, my Christmas cards just never made it out... sorry!  Maybe I'll aim for Valentine's Cards instead... or the 4th of July...)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Morning!

Sometimes, there are pluses to wintering in colder climates.  Let me give you an example.

In Tanzania last year, I found these really cool mugs.  The deep, thick, holds-lots-of-liquid kind of mugs.  They went with the beautiful blue-green and brown plates that I found for cheap, too.  And I really wanted to use them.

The only problem is, I don’t drink coffee.  And though I’ve been reminded numerous times that drinking hot liquids is especially important when it’s hot outside (???), I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet.

But there’s still something to that idea of waking up and huddling around a mug.  So I did it anyway.

With juice.

Yes.  with cold juice, straight out of the fridge.

It was my way of imagining it was snowing, cold, getting to the point where we’d need to build a fire… even though the fire was in the sun blazing just above our heads. 

But now, it turns out, it really IS cold!  (It's actually snowed a few times!)  And though I still don’t drink coffee (I’ve gotten close a few times on furlough...), hot cider is readily available AND enjoyable for consumption.

So these days, you’ll find me waking up to a mug once again.  But this time, the mug tends to hold something warm, not cold!
Happy Mornings!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I got a Parcel in the Post!

Ok, I might be a little confused.  Since I’m not in the land of a former British Colony anymore, I can use American terms.  Let's try this again.

"I got a package in the mail!"
I got a package in the mail!  
Yet, the previous (parcel in the post) phrase was often the mark of an exciting day – for everyone, not just for the recipient of the package – while I was teaching at HOPAC in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Package days are always special.  It’s funny how it didn’t matter what was inside… or who it was for.  The entire house (or anyone who might be around) gathered for the “opening” of the box.  Perhaps that comes from the fact that things aren’t as accessible there, so anything shipped in is a REALLY big deal.  Or perhaps, parcels simply = happy days!

Regardless, I recently got a package in the post (uh, I mean mail) here in the States.  And in honor of the excitement surrounding this package, I thought I’d share it with all of you!  Are you ready?
Here we go... 
Almost there! :)
Ta- DAA!!!
Yep!  Hooray!  It’s… more text books for my third graduate class that starts next week.

Are you excited?  I am, but maybe not for the books themselves!  (Don't get me wrong... I am hugely passionate about helping kids with reading disabilities!  I just wish there was a way of soaking up the new-found knowledge from my books as I work hands-on with kids... instead of sitting on the couch reading them while not teaching!)  Mostly, I'm happy because 1) The books came quickly, 2) I got FREE shipping, and 3) there was no import tax on my package.  (Usually when we get a larger box in Tanzania, we end up paying about $30 to get the package into the country.  Thankfully, we've found some ways to get creative... namely, manilla bubble envelopes!)  On the other hand, I have the feeling things are about to get busy… :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

As Worlds Collide...

3 October 2011
On my way down to the great state of NC, I've had my various worlds collide a few times!  The night before I left, I got to connect with a new friend I made in Germany over the summer.  She's a music teacher at the school in Kandern (at Black Forest Academy), and currently home on furlough.  We had dinner, enjoyed realizing that our transitions to the States have been pretty similar (aka we're not completely weird?!), and caught up on our lives the past several months. 

On my way to NC, I also got to visit with a dear missionary friend and housemate from Tanzania, who is currently on leave in Ohio.  It was a lovely couple of days of rest, restoration, catching up, Swahili-phrases and memories, quiet times, and each of us fully appreciating the changing of leaves that we haven't seen in quite a while!

If you're in full-time ministry and near Ohio... you've GOT to check this place out!  Just Google "InnKeepers".  A free, fully-furnished retreat center in a beautiful place... what a blessing!!!

Next, I stopped by Raleigh on my way to Rocky Mount and Tarboro.  Not only did I stay with a friend from Rocky Mount for the night (and get to meet people at her church), but I also got to go to dinner with another missionary friend from Tanzania... here in the States on training.  We did Panera so she could get a true taste of GOOD American fast food. :)
After 9 hours of driving... good thing Jo was ok with all my yawning over dinner!

Now I'm back to the present in North Carolina.  I'm catching up with friends, trying to remember what exactly has happened in the last two years (and what was happening while I was still here...), meeting new people, getting to share all about what God is doing in my life, and being blessed by sweet new and old friends along the way!

Tanzania, UK, Germany, America... different times, different languages, different years.  Amazing people, amazing memories.  All jumbled together in the course of a week.

Can't wait to see more people!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A time to laugh...

A wise man once said:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die… a time to weep and a time to laugh… a time to mourn and a time to dance… a time to keep and a time to throw away… - Ecclesiastes 3
People say that laughter is the best medicine.  And recently, I’ve been finding that taking TIME TO LAUGH is especially important during times of transition as well.  It makes me feel better (all those endorphins running around have GOT to be good, right?  Check out the facts in blue here.), and it helps me keep a smile on my face despite feeling lost and confused from time to time.  Best of all, it’s just fun.

When I was in High School, my daily routine after school was to come home, eat a bowl of cereal, and read the comics before starting on homework for the night.  (It was either that or bouncing on the exercise ball in our living room with a friend to relieve brain stress from Calc class!)  It was good for stress relief and gave me a break from the day.  Unfortunately, they don't print American comics in the Tanzanian newspapers... but I did finally find a site that allowed me to keep up-to-date on the latest and greatest free laugh-inducers!

Since many of you are embarking on a new school year – either with students, or in curriculum meetings this week… and simply because I’ve found some good comics the past few weeks… I thought I’d share a few with you!  And maybe help get YOU into a routine of mid-day laughter as well!

And, my favorite...
Happy Laughing!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's a Big World.

20 July 2011
Maybe it’s just me, but...  Whenever I’m getting ready to leave one location or culture, or have just entered another (which has happened a lot as of late), I start “seeing” people that really shouldn’t be there.  For instance, I’ll be in Germany and start “recognizing” people from across the street as someone who really lives in Michigan.  Or in Tanzania.  I guess my mind is struggling to adjust to the transitions and grasping at something it thinks should be familiar.  My organizational mechanisms are a little off at the moment!

I’m sitting in the public library right now working on grad studies in Comstock, MI.  And as I looked over to the bookshelves beside me, I suddenly recognized the person looking at books.  Not from my High School days, but from the organization I work with in Tanzania.  I nearly jumped up to give the lady a big hug and a warm welcome, but restrained myself just in time.  Luckily. 

It’s funny how our minds work!

Then, five minutes later as I walked to the front of the library, I saw none other than Kyle, my twirling/dance coach of over 12 years, talking to the librarian on her way from a meeting upstairs!  This amazing lady taught me how to travel across the country through airports, how to take care of myself on the road, how to do a high-toss double front walkover and make it look easy... :) and to NEVER give up on the dream of doing what I love and loving what I do.  This time it really WAS who I thought... I didn't have to restrain myself... and thankfully, the librarian didn't seem to mind our excitement and joyful hugging as I interrupted their conversation in mid-sentence!

Maybe the world is just a little smaller than I thought. :D

(P.S. Just so all my friends in Dar feel better… the reliability of the internet at this library is about as consistent as that at HOPAC.  Every five minutes, it tells me it can’t find the IP address.  Boy, does this feel familiar!  Just thought I'd empathize with you... I have to remember that sketchy internet might be a good thing.  I'll get more work done this way!!!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

From Storks to Ospreys...

19 July 2011

It's funny to see the amazing creativity of God throughout the world!  Three days ago, I looked out of my apartment window in Kandern, Germany, and saw this. 
The stork babies in another nest were just getting ready to be pushed out for their first flight.  (Sometimes, I feel like that's what God is doing with me...) :)

Then last night, my parents brought me to see an osprey nest in Kalamazoo.  While we were watching, the babies started poking their heads up and stretching their wings.  I don't think they'll be in the nest for much longer!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Stork Farm

2 July 2011

There’s a little place outside Kandern Germany in the Southern Black Forest region called “Holzen.”  It’s about a 5 minute drive from where I’m taking classes at BFA, and is a sleepy, beautiful little town with flowers galore, trails leading to everywhere… and storks.  Lots of storks.  Yes, I actually mean those big black-and-white birds that you always think of in fairy tales or stories but never really consider real… until you look out your apartment window and see a massive nest where a pair of them raise their young.  Wow.
Evidently, Holzen is known for its storks, or “storchen” as they are called here.  They are everywhere, and there is even a stork refuge of some sort where they can go if they get sick.  I went out exploring last week to see if I could find the place… and came back with some fun pictures.
The stork refuge.  If you look at the bell/clock tower in the background, you'll see nests there too.  They're everywhere!
The nests are HUGE!!!
For my German-speaking friends... um, I think that now totals two.  Maybe you can let me know what this says?
I really should put money in this to see if it sings.  Or moos.  Or something.
Actually, it reminds me of when Shrek and Donkey go into Duloc and get their picture taken.  Maybe this tells me the rules for the Stork Refuge?
I’ve been seeing signs all week for the Storchen Fest, 2-3 Juli… and was getting excited.  I would be here for it!  I thought maybe there would be a carnival or something.  Live music.  Or at least, stork meat grilled on a stick on the side of the road.  (Just kidding!)  But so far, it’s 1pm and all I see is the slow sign of ONE tent going up in the middle of the town’s playground.  No cars.  No crafts.  No food.  And no extra storks.  (Maybe they forgot to send out the invites to storks in the surrounding areas?)
Since I was here, I thought I should do a little research to find out about these fascinating creatures that evidently do NOT deliver babies to people.  (At least, I haven’t gotten one on my doorstep yet…)  One of the things that got me curious was a strange clacking sound that I hear from quite a distance, and finally figured out was coming from the storks.  My friend and I tried to capture the sound on video this morning, but the storks remained oddly silent… in preparation, I’m sure, for the Storchen Parade coming up later today.  Instead, I found that someone else had already accomplished the goal and uploaded a video to YouTube for my convenience.  

And... because you wanted to know... I'm bringing a random thought to you to add to your "nature facts" file in your brain:
Evidently, the reason storks were picked as the delivery mode of choice for babies is because these amazing birds are such naturally good parents.  They take good care of their young, and both mom and dad work together to raise them.  Yes, they still teach their babies to fly by pushing them out of the nest, just like all good bird parents do.  But as they keep the same nest (and mate) for a long period of time, I’m sure they might let their young come back for the occasional weekend visit, a home-cooked meal, and a load of laundry.  (Or, I could be wrong on that last part.)
Happy Storchen Fest Day, maybe!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What do Teachers DO when they go on Break?

Play, of course!  (We can't let the kids have ALL the fun!)

24 April 2011

A few years back during summer break in North Carolina, I joined a couple of friends for a day at Chuckee Cheese’s.  My kids were always completely shocked, flabbergasted, and falling on the floor with amazement when I told them I’d never been to this delightful place of fun, food, and friend’s birthday parties.  I thought I should at least check it out. 
Luckily, it didn’t take too much convincing to get some teacher-friends to join me!
This year, though, we did things a little differently.  Our school just got a brand new playground, which all the kids are THRILLED about.  We dedicated this the last day of school before break, and of course the teachers had to take some time to “show” the kids how to use all the different pieces. :) (Some of these kids have never seen a merry-go-round or swings before.  Not that it’s necessarily bad – they have more local, fun creative things to play on instead!)
The whole primary school on the playground... or what you can see of it... and us!
Also, after school on this day, the weather decided to POUR!  Not just a bit, but a downpour.  At the time, a teacher-friend of mine and I were outside walking, and despite our infinite sweetness (as my kids tell me EVERY day when I have ants crawling on me from my desk), we decided we weren’t going to melt.  We kept walking, then played a bit with kids who were enjoying the cool weather as well.  As a co-worker walked past, she commented in disgust, “I can’t believe these kids that are out playing in the rain…” then she looked at our wet clothes in complete shock.  “Not YOU, too!”  Ha!  I figure, what better way to enjoy the last day of term?

Over break, my friend Marie and I headed West to Dodoma to visit a wonderful family there.  We got to take the kids to the MAF playground, and of course we couldn’t let the kids have ALL the fun!  So we joined in. 
I love this playground – SO much more creative than anything we could bring from the States, and all locally made!  I'm hoping someday I can get some amazing, super-handy guys to build something like this for a school that needs it...
My favorite part is the zipline, bottom left corner.  There are two half-tires at the end of the wire, creating just enough distance to keep kids from swinging into the pole.  Ingenious!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Brick Testament

4 April 2011

I was looking for pictures of the Jordan River the other day, in preparation for our Bible lesson on the Israelites crossing the Jordon into the Promised Land.  And this is what I came up with.

Turns out there's a whole site dedicated to "acting" out the Bible in pictures, through lego people!  The creator poses them, takes a pic, then moves on to the next scene. 
I ended up showing this story to my kids, and they LOVED it. 

Joshua 3:7-8
Yahweh said to Joshua, 'Instruct the priests carrying the ark of the covenant '"When you reach the edge of the Jordan, wade in the waters of the river."'
Joshua 3:9,13
Joshua told the Israelites, 'When the feet of the priests carrying the ark of Yahweh touch the water of the Jordan, waters flowing downstream will stop flowing and pile up.'
 Joshua 3:10
'This is how you will know the living God is with you and that he will truly drive out before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.'
Joshua 3:14
So when the people left their tents to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant ahead of them.
Joshua 3:15-16
As soon as the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the covenant touched the water, the water coming downstream toward them stopped.
Joshua 3:16
And so the people crossed the Jordan opposite Jericho.
Joshua 4:17
Then Joshua commanded the priests, 'Come up out of the Jordan.'
Joshua 4:18
As soon as the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of Yahweh set foot on dry land, the water of the Jordan flowed over its banks again.

Cool, huh?!

As I explored the site more, I realized I needed to send out a warning to parents for all the kids who were rushing home to check out the site.  I already knew that many Bible stories weren't exactly kid-proof or kid-friendly... but was kind of hoping they would spare some of the details in the stories on this website.  Turns out, they didn't.  (Let's just say they act out certain scenes *very* explicitly...) :(

So, it seems there's good news and bad news.  The cool thing is that this site definitely gets people's attention.  The bummer is the lack of restrictiveness in what to show... and, as I discovered later, that the guy isn't actually a believer.  Which in one sense is really cool that he's engaging with the Bible so much, but on the other hand, it makes me look again at the material that is shown for possible inconsistencies.  If you're interested, there's another (much more critical) review of the page here.  Anyway, if you want to check out more, click here... but be sure to check out the story first before showing your kids! :D

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beam Me Up, Amani!

or, Thoughts on Teleportation and it's Reliability as a Transportation Source in Tanzania

28 March 2011

So I was contemplating the idea of teleportation tonight with a friend, and commenting on how I need to get my super-smart brother and sister-in-law to get going on this project.  After all, I’m sure that was a part of the aerodynamics and quantum theories of black holes classes they took at Embry Riddle, right?  Basic stuff.  So the thought was that they should build it, maybe sell it to a lot of people, but most importantly provide the machine for free to missionaries.  Or at least to me, and my friends.  After all, I’m the sister!
 As we contemplated the fantastic aspects of this invention, we started to get excited.  We could bop down to the Penninsula (and bypass all the traffic) whenever we wanted to for an evening out.  (Can you tell where we were when this discussion ensued?)  Or better yet (and much more importantly) we could head “home” to the States for a weekend and make it back in time for school the next Monday.

But then, I started thinking.  If all the missionaries are going home every weekend, there’s never going to be any community here.  Which kind of stinks.  AND all the Tanzanians (and other people all over the world) will be wanting to come, too.  Which might cause a bit of a new issue for immigration. 

Then, some of the logistics started to set in.  Do we REALLY want our molecules being taken apart in one place, and trusting them to be put back together again in another?  Would we even be the same person on the other side?  I mentioned I felt more comfortable going TO the States than back to Dar… I trust the State-side teleporter to actually work correctly!  (This coming after three weeks without internet or a server at school… and little to no internet in Dar in general this past week while the fiberoptic cable has something wrong with it… and after our principals’ comment a couple of weeks back at staff meeting, saying “So basically what we’re saying is there’s no power, no internet, and no water.  Have a great day!" …and, yes, we’re still sitting in traffic.)  My friend mentioned the potential problem of having a power cut happen just as you’re in the middle of transport.  And so, we began thinking about the practicalities of having working electronic devices here in Dar. 

The question is, if the teleportation device in Dar breaks, do we call in the local fundi (expert)?  Probably the fundi la bomba (plumber) would come and say, “yes, no problem.  It is ok.  I fix” and then go and get some parts.  Or say, “parts very expensive.  Must get from States.  Many pesas.”  At which point we would mention how we have little money.  They would give us a rubber band and a plastic tube, and say “sawa, it is ok.” 

Thought: I wonder if teleportation could be done through sling-shotting ourselves from Dar to the States via a rubber band?  It would sure cut down the cost!?

The other option is that when we say we have no money, they will say “ok” and get a part made in China.  Then it will break, and we will call again, and they will get another cheap part from China.  And then that one will break, and we’ll get another, and so on, and so on.  And no one will be bothered by these numerous, long, annoying transactions except for us missionaries. :D

The more I think about the frequent power cuts we’re having, I’m realizing we would really need to get a reliable generator specifically for the machine.  This would at least help ensure that no one gets stuck halfway between two places.  I’m imagining writing an email with one hand saying, “Hey mom, did I leave my other hand and foot there?  I’ll try to get them again when the power comes back on!”  Except, oh wait, no power means no email.  Whoops.  Hope they don’t get thrown away by mistake!

The other thing is that I would definitely not rely on anyone keeping the machine maintained during my three day stay at home.  Rather, someone here would probably get jealous of my cool machine and come steal some part or other so that I can’t use it anymore.  And then I would be sad.  And broke, because I’d have to pay for a quick super-sonic ticket back before school starts on Monday!

So anyway, long before we ever made it home from our relaxing time of working at a coffee shop (my first in a VERY VERY long time!) and the 1.5 hr drive home from town afterward (definitely NOT my first recently!), it was pretty much decided that, at least for Tanzania, perhaps the teleportation route is just not quite the way to go. 

But, Jer and Claudia, if you want to get working on prototypes for the future… preferably models that don’t require power or maintenance… I certainly won’t object!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Musings for the Moment.

3 Feb 2011
  • Violence in Egypt is a heck of a lot more real when living in a “neighboring” country.  I’ve heard all these descriptions on the news before, but now that I’m actually here and I know how quickly things can escalate since public pressure is the only way to get changes made, it’s a whole different perspective.  PRAYING!!!!
  • My kids are great.  And, yes, driving me crazy.  It is February, after all.  But they're making me laugh hard along the way with memorable quotes! 
  • I don’t know how people are surviving Dar heat right now with hamna umeme (no electricity) every other day, and then none on the alternate nights as well.  We NEED Rain!!!!!  SO thankful for the amazingly unexpected blessing of living near the power plant and having continuous power at our new house… I know I could do it, but I’m thankful for a fan at night, a fridge that stays cold, and an electric stove that works whenever we want to eat! 
  • I wish I could get as excited about everything I teach as I do about some of the subjects!  I try to give every topic equal opportunity for passionate learning excitement, and I’m good at making it look like I love it… but it’s just not always very “real.”  I’m having a blast teaching about the body right now… wish I loved teaching electricity this much!  (Anyone want to come guest teach?)
My kiddos on "Brain Day"
  • Today I was reading the story of Moses, and threw out the pre-made Bible lesson plans completely.  (Yeah, this is another of those topics I really do love!!!)  I acted out (with emotion) the burning bush scene as I read it, and we contrasted the reality of the Scriptural story to the movie (which was a few of my kids’ only experience with the story before today).  By the end, when I closed my Bible, my kids begged, “Miss Lucas, we still have 25 minutes of school!  Please keep reading, we want to hear more!!”  This, after sitting still on the carpet listening to me read for about 25 minutes.  I love my class!!!
  • I wonder if all this passion and excitement (feigned or otherwise) is why I come home so exhausted every night???  Or maybe it’s the heat.  Or both :)

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's That Time of Year...

Disclaimer: I wasn’t going to post this, but after reading a few real, honest, unmasked posts by people today, I decided why not.  Sometimes, it’s good to see what’s really happening on the inside of people. So here I go.

(And, just in case you don’t know the significance of Feb 1 and my story as a 16-year-old, click here for my thoughts from last year.  Which, as I look back over it, looks a lot like this year's post... but oh well!)

Tomorrow is always a weird day for me. 

On the one hand, it should be a day of celebration, thanksgiving, joyfulness.  And in many ways, it is. 

But on the other hand, Feb 1 still stands to set me apart from others.  Makes me feel alone.  And yes, just a bit weird. 

Who talks openly about having brain surgery?  And yet, I have to ask, why shouldn’t I?  If only for the glory of God it’s worth it.  And it really was (and is!) all to His glory that I’m even here teaching and dancing and living in Africa – even here – at all.  For bringing me the parents, friends, coach, teachers I had… for the surgeon He placed in our path… for bringing me out and away clean and clear… I know that, I see it, and I rejoice.  But when it comes to anything medical with the brain, the stigma clings firmly on.  And just having gone through some of this stuff makes me feel… different. 

Many people haven’t faced death at 16.  And while I know I’m better for it, stronger, I also know that there were years of worry and doubt and fear accompanying this day of the year over the past 11 years.  Accompanying any MRI results I might be getting back each year.  Accompanying the question of, “what if it happens again?”  Even though I “know better.”  And it stinks.

I know I’m not supposed to live in fear.  And ultimately, I don’t.  Not of dying, anyway.  I know that I’m going to be here as long as I’m supposed to be, and I know what’s going to happen (or at least, a bit of it!) when I do get to join Jesus in heaven, celebrating Him and who He is and what He has done with all His children from Earth.  And I want to enjoy and live fully the life He has given me here and now without wasting a precious second.

But there’s still a “down-and-out” feeling that comes along, even when I don’t see it coming. 

I wonder what the future holds, and why in the world God chose ME…  because that’s what it comes down to, really.  In a lot of ways, that’s where I wonder why I’m different.  Different because this happened, but also different because I came through (mostly!) unscathed.  Whenever anyone else talks about someone they knew with a brain tumor, the results were tragic.  The person died.  Or they never spoke again.  Or they couldn’t move, or couldn’t see right, or looked funny, or SOMETHING.  But then there’s me… who has been dancing and living and learning and falling flat on my face and getting back up and learning some more and teaching and traveling for the past 11 years, just like any other “normal” person on earth.  And I just don’t see how it all fits together.  I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  And I don’t know whether to celebrate or sit still and be thankful.  And even as I have a lot of yet-unfulfilled hopes for my future, I wonder whether I should hope for these specific things to come my way, or just to accept that His plans are best, come what may.  Or, somehow, both.

So, here’s to life.  One that I’m not really sure why… why me… but I’m here none-the-less.  And I’m thankful for it!  And here’s to all the people who have surrounded me, loved me, encouraged me, propped me up, and let me be “me” over the past 11 years, whatever that might look like.

Friday, January 21, 2011

One Day At A Time

I'm still in the process of moving into my new room.  I got a new bookcase so I can store my books (hooray!), and am slowly but surely finding places for things I love on the walls.  In the midst of the sorting and putting-up, I hung a couple of things on the same hook... and realized the irony (or wisdom) of it later on as I passed by!

Despite the slightly in-the-way-ness of this setup, I just might leave it... at least for now :)  It may be exactly what I need to be reminded of as I start each new day! 

Happy Friday!!!

Things I Never Knew I Needed... aka random sightings in airports

Things I never knew I needed

It's a funny thing, traveling through airports.  You're surrounded by people (great for people-watching!), and by stores.  You know that you don't want to add a single thing to your luggage to carry with you on the rest of your flight... but at the same time, you need to do SOMETHING to stay awake before boarding!  So, off you go to browse through the shops... and, as the shop owners are banking on, probably by at least a water or a candy bar.

Here are a couple of things I didn't know I needed... but would be great to have on hand, I'm sure.  (Or, maybe not...)

In a place where we just can't get fir trees, this seems like a great deal!  It's already prelit, and would look totally natural in the environment here, I'm sure. :)

Ok, I have a couple of techie friends that I'm sure would get a kick out of this... but really?  There are enough bugs around Africa without getting computerized ones you can control!
Guess where?  Amsterdam, of course!  The (other) land of tulips, wooden shoes, and windmills galore.  I SO wanted to buy some cheese and sausage (seriously bad cravings!) but continuously reminded myself that it would be cheaper when I got home. 
Cheese graters... with a Dutch girl in costume on top.  This would definitely come in handy if I ever moved back to Holland, MI... or if I wanted to smile and be reminded of my "other" home!